262 Great Directors: Sofia Coppola

“I’m always a sucker for a love story.”


What Got This Director Here?
: For better or worse, she is THE female director of the 21st century. (I say for better.)

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: Lost in Translation.

What Did I Watch: Virgin Suicides and Somewhere, followed by a Marie Antoinette rewatch since I hadn’t seen it in ages.

Where Does She Fit: The Virgin Suicides is mostly just Sofia trying to make a moodpiece out of a book that lends itself neatly to that regard, but even with her cribbing a whole lot of prose from it, we also get something new and original just because of all the record drops (soundtrack/into the fire both apply). Kristen Dunst’s Lux is the only one who gets to play a character even if there’s a lot of Malick in how she twirls around looking happy and free, but there’s something lovely and free about this. Definitely a great debut even if its release date drives me batty.

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Somewhere, however, never really recovers from its rocky start thanks to the plot being a whole lot of nothing. It feels a little like she saw Jeanne Dielman, thought she wanted to do something similar with a bored male actor, and wound up just giving us things like not one but two strip routines, followed by a long shot of a man drinking, and then his daughter’s ice skating routine. All a tad much, no? Still sort of came around just because it’s all very prettily shot, but this is a very half-hearted embrace of slow cinema tropes on her end.

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Marie Antoinette got slammed, then reclaimed, and now seems to be comfortably in the middle of her filmography in terms of quality. Yes, the soundtrack is a noble failure of pop music/classical music, but the style on the screen works much better, a perfectly posh and pretty look into the lap of luxury. Dunst’s performance is right in the vein of Virgin Suicides, but an odd mix of modern and stagy line readings are her route to the finish line. It’s all, in its own way, Raise the Red Lantern with a looser vibe, and that is the highest of compliments even if it’s third among her work.

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Most Valuable Asset: She perfectly understands 21st century vapidity and isolation for bored rich people.
Most Excited For: Her upcoming remake of The Beguiled now that I’ve seen everything.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Yes.

Coming Up Next: Her ex, Spike Jonze. (What a hilariously coincidental placement.)

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